Today marks the beginning of New York's 20th "Fleet Week," and to the crews of the USS Wasp, USS Hue City, USS Stephen Groves, USS Oscar Austin, USS Winston Churchill, and USS San Jacinto, as well as the Coast Guard cutter Katherine Walker, we say, welcome to New York City. New Yorkers have a variety of views about the war in Iraq. But the vast majority of us understand that America is in a war being levied by Islamist extremists and appreciate that the American military is out in the sands and on the seas protecting us from attack. For the visiting sailors and Marines, a thank you, a smile, and a round of drinks are all in order.
It is the least New Yorkers can do to express our gratitude to the sailors who are doing their part not only to help keep us all safe from another September 11 but to protect fledgling democracies in Iran and Afghanistan. The comparison is often drawn between Iraq and Vietnam, but one way the wars are different is that the unpopularity of the war in Iraq has only rarely spilled over into animus by American civilians toward their countrymen in uniform. Those of us who do support the war as well our servicemen and women have an opportunity this week to demonstrate that distinction by giving a warm welcome to the visiting sailors before they steam off to the next battle.